'Night Piece' is one of seven poems from The Darkening Ecliptic that was cited during the Angry Penguins obscenity trial. The trial was conducted in Adelaide in September 1944. Michael Heyward (The Ern Malley Affair, 1993, p.93) suggests that McAuley and Stewart decided to write 'Night Piece' twice. 'It is possible that they preselected its imagery, agreed on the number of lines, and then wrote the two versions ['Night Piece' and 'Night Piece : Alternate Version'] individually.' Each poem has three stanzas. In 'Night Piece' the configuration of lines per stanza is 5/4/4; in 'Night Piece : Alternate Version', the configuration is 4/4/5.
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'Some of the best, most significant writing produced in Australia over more than two centuries is gathered in this landmark anthology. Covering all genres - from fiction, poetry and drama to diaries, letters, essays and speeches - the anthology maps the development of one of the great literatures in English in all its energy and variety.
'The writing reflects the diverse experiences of Australians in their encounter with their extraordinary environment and with themselves. This is literature of struggle, conflict and creative survival. It is literature of lives lived at the extremes, of frontiers between cultures, of new dimensions of experience, where imagination expands.
'This rich, informative and entertaining collection charts the formation of an Australian voice that draws inventively on Indigenous words, migrant speech and slang, with a cheeky, subversive humour always to the fore. For the first time, Aboriginal writings are interleaved with other English-language writings throughout - from Bennelong's 1796 letter to the contemporary flowering of Indigenous fiction and poetry - setting up an exchange that reveals Australian history in stark new ways.
'From vivid settler accounts to haunting gothic tales, from raw protest to feisty urban satire and playful literary experiment, from passionate love poetry to moving memoir, the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature reflects the creative eloquence of a society.
'Chosen by a team of expert editors, who have provided illuminating essays about their selections, and with more than 500 works from over 300 authors, it is an authoritative survey and a rich world of reading to be enjoyed.' (Publisher's blurb)
Allen and Unwin have a YouTube channel with a number of useful videos on the Anthology.